Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

WSU Catholic Student Center members invest spring break in exploring service opportunities

Story and photo by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff

(From the April 9, 2009 edition of the Inland Register)

Members of St. Thomas More Catholic Student Center in Pullman spent spring break in Spokane learning about service opportunities within the Catholic Church. In the back row, from left, are Michael Ward and Michael Humpherys; in front, from left, are Hannah Leonard, Chauntelle DeBlois, and Olivia Saunders. (IR photo)

Five students from Washington State University, all of whom are active at the university’s Catholic Student Center, visited Spokane Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 20, during WSU’s spring break. The purpose of the students’ visit was to learn about and help out at various charitable and church-related agencies in order to learn more about the diocesan church.

Participating were Michael Humpherys, a graduate student in Physics from Yakima; Michael Ward, a senior majoring in Graphic Design from Sandpoint, Idaho; Hannah Leonard, a sophomore majoring in Speech and Hearing Sciences, from the Tri-Cities; Chauntelle DeBlois, who is both a junior majoring in Construction Management and a senior majoring in Architecture, from the Bremerton area; and Olivia Saunders, a graduate student in Soil Science from New Hampshire. Accompanying the students was Father Steve Werner, pastor of St. Thomas More Catholic Student Center.

The group arrived mid-morning at their temporary residence, Immaculate Heart Retreat Center in Spokane. Once they unloaded their baggage and got settled in their rooms, the students and Father Werner drove to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes for the noon Mass. In the midst of moving day for Catholic Charities, Scott Cooper, director of Parish Social Ministries, hosted the students for lunch and talked with them about Catholic Charities’ mission. The students also met with Dr. Rob McCann, Catholic Charities’ Executive Director.

That afternoon, the Missionaries of Charity, based at St. Patrick Parish in northeast Spokane’s Hillyard neighborhood, welcomed the students and brought them along to help with distribution of hot soup to homeless people at various locations. Returning to the retreat center, the students had dinner with Father Werner, participated in Night Prayer, debriefed about their experiences that day, and relaxed for the rest of the evening

Tuesday morning, following Morning Prayer in the retreat center chapel, the students were welcomed to the House of Charity in downtown Spokane. There they met with director Ed McCarron who discussed the ministries of the House of Charity and answered questions. Following a brief visit to the nondenominational Spokane Dream Center in downtown Spokane – “a place of healing and restoration for the whole man” – the group returned to the House of Charity, where they helped serve lunch and ate lunch. Early that evening the students again met with the Missionaries of Charity for discussion and prayer.

Catholic Schools Superintendent Dr. Duane Shafer welcomed the students at the Catholic Pastoral Center on Wednesday morning and talked with them about Catholic Schools on both the diocesan and national levels. Following a brief interview with the Inland Register, the students returned to the House of Charity for lunch, after which Jerry Schwab, Coordinator of Volunteers, led the group on a walking tour of the downtown areas served by the House of Charity. Next, the male students went to help out with Volunteer Chore Services at the Delaney Apartments, and the female students went to help out at Women’s Hearth, a Transitions program.

Thursday, the students visited the Sisters of Providence, at Mt. St. Joseph, where they joined the Sisters for Mass. Providence Sister Rosalie Locati, Director of Mission and Values at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, met with the students for lunch. Next, they walked to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where they toured the Children’s Hospital. Following a free afternoon, the male students drove to Morning Star Boys’ Ranch, southeast of Spokane, where they were met and given a tour by Weekday Supervisor Anke Beckman. The female students went to St .Margaret Shelter, where Care Case Manager Jayme Walters introduced them to the shelter’s work on behalf of homeless women and their children.

Friday morning, the students drove to Gonzaga University, where they visited Jesuit House and were introduced to the ministries of the Jesuits in the Pacific Northwest (and beyond). They joined the Jesuit community for Mass, followed by lunch in the Jesuit House dining room. Following lunch, the students toured the Gonzaga campus and the new Bishop White Seminary construction site. At about 2 p.m. the group, together with Father Steve Werner, returned to Pullman.

Chauntelle DeBlois described the group’s experiences in Spokane as “eye-opening and humbling in the extreme.”

“It’s really neat,” said Michael Humpherys, “especially at the House of Charity, to see how filled with the Spirit some of the impoverished people are, how joyful they are, even though they’re in the situations they are.”

Would the students advise others to make the same trip next year? “Oh, definitely,” said Chauntelle DeBlois.

“This was my first time doing something like this,” said Hannah Leonard, “and I’m really glad that I did it.”

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